Though US landscapes were once teeming with red wolves, the species suffered, as so many others have, because of hunting, habitat destruction, and encroachment.
In fact, in the 1980s the species was even considered “extinct in the wild,” as reported by NPR.
Thanks to the sustained efforts of captive breeding programs, the species was saved from the brink of extinction, and by 2012, there were 120 red wolves in the wild. Unfortunately, human activity led to another drastic decline in the species population. As of 2021, experts estimated that there were only 15 to 17 remaining in the wild, with no wild births recorded since 2018.
That is, until last week.
“During the week of April 18, Red Wolf Recovery Program Staff confirmed a litter of six wild red wolf pups (four female, two males) born to mother 2225 and father 2323 (to be confirmed through genetic testing),” wrote the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program in a post on their Facebook page.
“The new litter is the first wild-born litter of red wolves since 2018… Every generation yields a newborn hope for the red wolf… a cause for joy and celebration!” the Red Wolf Recovery Program added.
Hopefully, through careful conservation, the red wolf population can be restored. For now, they are still considered endangered under the Endangered Species Act.